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Pacemakers and welding


kbeach
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OK, I can't be the only one with this problem. With a pacemaker / auto defib installed, the word from the manufacture of this device is to stay away from electrical fields such as electric welders. Does anyone know of a solution such as a lead vest or some other type of protection that can be used while welding? 

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OK, I can't be the only one with this problem. With a pacemaker / auto defib installed, the word from the manufacture of this device is to stay away from electrical fields such as electric welders. Does anyone know of a solution such as a lead vest or some other type of protection that can be used while welding? 

I am resisting a pacemaker for exactly this reason.  The data is conflicting.  For example, my doctor told me that exposure to high frequency is the bigger problem. That specifically means high energy ignition systems, as well as high frequency TIG welding.  Arc is probably less of a problem.  Lead isn't what you want, it's a metallic vest, like chain mail, that is grounded.  Essentially you need an RF shield around your chest.  How good is good enough is the information that's apparently difficult to find.  Too many lawyers have prevented the publication of real data, since publicizing this data potentially exposes the author or source to liability. 

 

Welcome to our litigious society...

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Thanks for the reply Joe.

 

HEI's are one of the items on the list. I agree with your comments about the Lawyers getting involved. So far the Doctors and the manufacture will only say just stay away from it all. The welding suppliers just give me a blank stare saying that they have no knowledge of what I am talking about (must be on the advice of their lawyer).  

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I just dropped off a 1947 Frazer Manhattan to a member near Altoona, PA ....

 

We had a great visit over a few hours & one of the topics was a pacemaker he had installed

that had him feeling lethargic - sluggish - etc ....

 

He was warned against welding (among othrer things) ...

 

He was told he had to live with it ...

 

He went to another doctor - had his pacemaker adjusted - then tried welding & exercising ...

 

World of a difference.

 

My takeaway - your doctor makes all the difference ...

 

 

 

Jim

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
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If your doctor says do it then why in the world would you ever take a chance ? Beyond me. Wayne

Living longer isn't necessarily a good thing if you can't do the things you enjoy.

 

In any case, the whole issue is electromagnetic interference.  I deal with this in the aerospace industry.  The problem is solved by shielding, which is what a metal mesh jacket would do.  If you don't believe this, you had better not ever ride in a commercial jetliner, as EMI shielding is extremely important for the critical flight controls.

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"Living longer isn't necessarily a good thing if you can't do the things you enjoy."

I've lost a number of friends hang gliding. Almost always I hear "He died doing what he loved" as if that makes him any less dead.............Bob

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I think this will explain how to deal with welding issues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

 

I am sure passengers with pacemakers would be warned not to fly if the metal cabin did not function as a Faraday cage to protect them from lightning strikes.

 

A simple electrically conductive metal screen vest that is grounded to earth should protect you.  Just my opinion...

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I'm well-into the useful life of my FOURTH (4th) pacemaker  --  (Medtronic, not Hudson).

 

Some of you know the story of how I fried my first one. My now-late friend Joey Matranga phoned on a Sunday evening in 2002 to tell me that his '29 Buick had begun running poorly, and then quit, forcing him and his family to have to push the big sedan into the garage.

 

Joey said he had spark at the plugs and gas at the carburetor, so I said "well, it ought to run". I struggled up the driveway carrying my 150 lb toolbox, and after verifying the spark/gas, decided to do a compression check of the big six (6) cylinder Buick 29-57. My compression tester showed ZERO on the first three cylinders so I ASSUMED that my compression tester had gone bad, so I placed my index finger over the spark plug hole for cylinder #1, and my thumb over #2, and told Joey to turn it over, but didn't think to tell him NOT to turn on the ignition. Without hesitating, Joey spun the engine, and I felt NO COMPRESSION which was later determined to be "STUCK VALVES". Three plugs were in, and three were out. The engine rocked side-to-side, at which time the three disconnected spark plug wires which had been draped over the rocker cover, decided to relocate to my right wrist while my left hand was grounded on the firewall, making my chest and implanted pacemaker the shortest path to ground.

 

My guess was that somewhere in the neighborhood of 28,800 volts blew-out every circuit in the then 4-year-old pacemaker, burned the insulation of of the two leads which connected the pacemaker to the Atrial and Ventricular portions of my heart, and cauterized the heart muscle where the leads were attached  --  then it threw me across the garage !

 

I didn't feel so good (understatement?), but was reluctant to tell my wife what had happened. She could tell that something wasn't right and when I admitted my action we met my cardiologist at the hospital where we confirmed that the pacemaker was non-functional and would need immediate replacement. Removing the old unit went fine, but they capped off, and left in the old leads for fear of inverting the heart. They then installed a new unit with additional new leads, and this unit served well until it finally wore out in August of 2009. The replacement in 8/09 with a new unit connected to the 2002 leads seemed to go well, but the site never healed, and possible infection was suspected so six weeks later a laser was used to remove all devices:

1998 leads,

2002 leads,

August 2009 pacemaker,

...and all new equipment was installed on the opposite side of my chest.

 

I'm still ticking like a Timex, but at the cost of a Rolex......

 

..... and I DO NOT do any welding !!

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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Thanks for the input Mark. Good information and I plan to follow up with the manufacture.

I understand a little of what you went through Marty. I have had my implant for over 5 years now and have followed all the precautions regarding electrical devices. My auto defib did go off 4 times in a row (nothing to do with being around electronic equipment) and I never want that to happen again! This devise is keeping me going and I have no intentions of having it causing my demise. I get the feeling that the Doctors are just not interested in taking the time to pursue the question (nothing against the Doctors, they have been fantastic!). The reps are just reading from their scrips and I don't know how to get to someone that is willing to help. I do know of others with implants that weld but I don't want to go down that road without proper instruction/protection.  

Thanks everyone for your input. All helpful. For now I will continue to have others do the welding.

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My takeaway - your doctor makes all the difference ...

 

Whole-heartily agree, Jim!

 

I don't weld, so I never ran into that type of issue with my pacemaker.  However, the cardiologist & pacemaker clinic folks I see ... would certainly have no trouble figuring out a way to make it "safe" for me to do, IF they could, of course.

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"I can't stay on your morphine, cause it's making me itch" __ Pink __ 'Just Like A Pill'
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  • 2 months later...

Sorry to dredge this up, but I had a pacemaker installed almost 5 weeks ago. Don't do much welding anymore, but still use chain saws frequently. Some of the cautions depend on the reason the device was installed, in my case my heart beat fine on its own but only at 30 BPM's when I was resting. If my pacemaker failed I would simply revert to my slow rythem while other people might die.

Per the manufacturer, the only tool I can't operate is an electric jackhammer (pneumatic is fine). They tell you how far certain tools need to be from the device (i.e. 6", 12" or 24") but I have now operated saws and my backpack blower. I told my doctor up front my need to weld and operate a saw and he matched me to the device.

Edited by Gary Hearn (see edit history)
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Don't know how I missed this thread. I had a pace maker installed in 2012. My doctor said no welding, no standing near a generator or a light plant. This really cramped my life style, I have a mig welder that I use in my hobby of restoring cars and I am a construction supt. so light plants and generators are a part of my world. I have to go for a check up every 3 months and every 3 months we have this discussion about welding. Recently my doctor retired so I now have a new doctor.

Also the manufacturer of the pace maker just sent me a box that somehow connects to my phone and they are going to start monitoring my pace maker through the phone system instead of me having to go back to the doctors office every time I need a check up. I took this opportunity to bring up the welding issue with my new doctor and to my surprise he said yes, go ahead and weld but keep the amperage low and with this new monitoring system we want to see if we get any screwy readings on your pace maker.

I'm going to try spot welding some sheet metal and see what happens

Edited by real61ss (see edit history)
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I can also add another health related issue involving welders. The issue I had was TIG welding while wearing hearing aids. After I finished welding an aluminum part I noticed a hissing sound that I couldn't locate. At first I thought an air line was leaking somewhere in my garage. After a couple of minutes looking around, I removed the hearing aid in my left ear and the sound was gone. When it came back from repair I talked to a technician from the company and told him what I was doing when it happened and he told me the high frequency probably was the cause. When ever I weld now I remove them and disconnect the batteries.

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I've had a Medtronic unit running for about 4 years. In terms of machinery, I was advised to avoid ARC welding and powerful leaf blowers.  Every 3 months, use a modem to phone in data...you would be surprised how detailed the information is.  Biggest issue is no more MRIs...drives the orthopedic guy nuts.

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